Ten Tips to Fight Fair

I’m not a fan of boxing nor professional wrestling. I find that, as in real life, the players don’t always fight fair. I understand that much is done strictly to boost ratings but still I find it distressing. In real life it is even more disturbing for much damage can occur when one or both partners gets down and dirty. Conflict arises in every aspect of our lives yet sadly very few of us are taught at an early age how to resolve our differences peacefully. Many adults still employ the juvenile tactics from childhood that are fear-based and aggressive. It’s time to re evaluate the way in which we settle our disputes making it a more equitable process for all. Here are ten tips to fight fair:

1) Approach the disagreement with an open mind and an equally as receptive heart. Remember, the mind is like a parachute: it only works when open. And the heart is where love resides, a much needed ingredient in reasonably resolving disputes.
2) Listen to understand rather than formulating your response. When one feels as those they are being heard and understood they feel valued and hopeful that they can come to a meeting of the minds.
3) Although it’s tempting to begin your conversation with such statements as “You make me…You always… You should/shouldn’t” openers such as these only put your partner on the defensive. Accusatory statements put other on the defensive as they feel they are under attack. Some will choose to defend themselves; others may retreat from the dialogue. Ask God to formulate your words before they depart from your mouth. Temper them with kindness and respect.
4) Stick to one topic, avoiding the temptation to branch out. Would you go to hairdresser who was not only cutting your hair but applying color to another client, giving a perm to another, and blow drying a third simultaneously? Of course not. You would expect that her undivided attention was on you so as to ensure a flawless haircut. So it is with resolving disputes. Stay focused on the issue at hand.
5) Repeat back what you think you heard the other person say. “Let me see if I heard you correctly. You’re concerned about the amount of debt we’ve accrued but you’re not stating emphatically that we can’t go on vacation this year. Is that correct?” This one technique alleviates the other party’s concerns that you are not fully grasping their position.
6) Identify the issue in three minutes or less. Then refocus your attention to the desired outcome. What is it that you want to accomplish and what are the best steps to achieve that? In this way, 99% of your time, energy, and creativity will be focused on the solution. It also eliminates the opportunity to engage in blame.
7) Let the other person know from the get go that you are open to a compromise. In that way, they will feel more at ease knowing you are entering this with an open mind as well as a genuine concern for their well-being and needs.
8) Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. See things through their eyes to gain a better understanding of where they are coming from. You don’t have to agree with their position or share the same passion but the willingness to be compassionate and empathetic pays huge dividends.
9) If you find the situation is becoming heated, stop and take a break. Unless the issue is a matter of life or death nothing is so urgent as to risk a debate escalating into an argument filled with anger, bitterness, and hurtful words.
10) Limit the amount of time you spend addressing this issue. Very often, the preconceived belief that this discussion could continue indefinitely is enough to raise anxiety in both parties, contributing to a decrease in patience and tolerance. You can being with a suggestion of “Let’s try to wrap this up in 15 minutes. I think that’s more than enough time to address this issue.”

Fighting fair isn’t hard. It means leaving your ego locked securely in a closet in the basement and approaching your opponent as your ally. Keep it short, simple, and respectful and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to arrive at a peaceful and mutually satisfactory resolution.

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